My chickens – a love affair

 

I purchased 25 Wyandotte chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery last spring.  My chicks arrived around the end of May and I was thrilled.   After raising them under the heat lamp until they feathered out, I put them in the barn – in my goat pen.  They did well for a while until the sneaky neighborhood fox figured out how to get inside the pen.  He steadily got 1 per day until we finally got the pen fox proofed.  That took some time because it took us forever to find that he was crawling under the gate in a space that was about 3″high!    I ended up with 1 Blue Laced Wyandotte Roo – named Jamie, 5 Blue Laced Wyandotte hens, and 2 Golden Laced Wyandotte hens.  Not a good success rate!   Anyway, they grew out beautifully, and I was a little disappointed that they didn’t lay that first summer.   Around the first of January they surprised me by beginning to lay!  We were steadily getting 4-5 eggs every day.  Then I had one of the Golden Laced hens to decide to go broody.  I gathered up a dozen eggs and let her start setting.  One of the BLRW hens then decided to go broody too, but she is not the brightest hen.  She moves from nesting box to nesting box, and will leave her eggs alone.  So I put her on some fake eggs for now.      I also have a Rhode Island Red hen that came to live with me from a friend.  Her roo got eaten by a varmit, so I took Miss Henny in to keep her from being dinner.  My Wyandotte girls don’t like her a lot, but they are finally coming around where they don’t pick on her so much.

I bought an incubator in February and decided to start raising some chicks.   I picked out one that is pretty much fully automatic and then got an egg turner to keep the eggs rotated too.

https://www.gqfmfg.com/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=77

My first hatch seemed to take F-O-R-E-V-E-R……..  I was so excited and almost beside myself when that first chick finally popped out of that egg!   We didn’t have a good hatch rate – only 17 out of 42 eggs made it.  😦    But I decided to try again.

Our second hatch just came off and out of 42 eggs we got 21 chicks – alive.   I have one egg that seems to be still alive – I candled it and I can see movement inside.  I took it out and put it under the broody hen – perhaps it will hatch – I had to give it a chance.  9 of the eggs were infertile and didn’t even try to develop.  Two chicks pipped holes in their shells but died before they got out.   The rest of the eggs were almost completely developed, the chicks were fully formed in the shells but didn’t absorb the yolk.  I have no idea what went wrong, need to research that and see what I can to to prevent that happening next time.    Of this batch, I traded 6 chicks for 54 eggs (Black copper maans and Auraconas) and also sold 5 this morning.  From the first hatch, I sold yesterday the remaining 13 chicks for $4 each.    Not too bad for a hobby I guess.

Anyway, I have ordered another incubator and the game plan is to set a new hatch every 2 weeks.  If I pick up eggs and every 10 days set a new hatch.  I will use the Black copper maran and Auracona hens for my food/sale eggs.  And will hatch the Wyandottes for sale and I am breeding to get a true blue chicken.  My little goal I guess you could say.

I found a couple pretty good record keeping spreadsheets on the internet that I’m going to start using:

http://www.hencam.com/static/uploads/2012/01/taylor_egg_record.pdf

2012 Chicken Tracker USE ME

I have also gathered up some other links that chicken people would find useful.  

Good page with info about incubation : http://www.avianweb.com/deadinshell.html

I’ll come back and add more later.  I have learned so much about poultry in the last couple of months.  🙂

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